Machinations Beta and Other Stuff

It's that time again:

Machinations: The Nova Praxis GM's Guide

The beta version has been released to Kickstarter backers and other assorted testers. It's very nearly content complete, and we're mostly just waiting on art before the official release.

Once it's finalized, it will be available in PDF and print through DrivethruRPG.

"Savage Praxis"

Sean is hammering away at it, and we're planning to fire off the Kickstarter in the next few weeks.


We should be getting our first samples from the injection molders next week. And thankfully we were able to find an ink that's going to get the job done. So once we get samples in hand, we'll print some up and run a few tests. I really hope to get the Kickstarter rolling sometime within the next month.


We've been quiet, but we've been productive.


I sent the "alpha" doc off to playtesters last night. It's pretty rough, but about 95% content complete and has a functional (if unfinished) layout. Now I just need to focus on editing, art, and adding that last few pages of content and NPC stats.


Huge progress on that front. We've got the first samples on order! We should get them around this time next month, and if we don't have any trouble with the molding process, we can start ink testing.

"Savage Praxis"

We've hit a few delays, but we should be off and running on this again. Sean and I have talked a good bit and just need to get around to hammering out more of the details.

Another update?

Yep! Usually the VSS website is kinda quiet, but I'm going to try to do a better job of posting updates. And it helps that I've got more to talk about since the recent announcements.

Machinations (The Nova Praxis GM's Guide)

About 90% of the book is written. The rest exists as bullet points that need to be converted into actual completed thoughts, and then it's off to editing and layout. But we still need a lot of art too, and that can be a pain.

I haven't talked too much about the contents, but I'll tell you about some of my favorite bits:

  • Sequences - This is a rules sub-system designed to help the GM run sessions that consist of a complex sequence of events in a complex location. It helps you run things like enemy base infiltration, complex heist jobs, the boarding of an enemy ship, a military skirmish, or similar scenarios without the need for elaborate maps or tons of NPC stats.
  • New Factions - Along with introducing some new faces, or expanding on some we've mentioned in passing before, we really got to dig into the meat of the setting by exploring some of the movers and shakers that are out there. Some of my favorites:
    • Seraphim - Augmented far beyond what most people consider possible, these techno-angelic beings preside over the hidden utopian enclave of Elysium. From their hidden paradise, these mysterious beings pull strings and set in motion schemes that can be felt throughout the galaxy. They have created a progressive paradise, but what are they up to and what is their connection to the old secret societies of Earth?
    • Talons of Freedom - Born from the remnants of the United States military, the Talons are fast becoming a credible threat. Their agents are everywhere, and their plans are coming to fruition. Soon it will be time to strike.
    • Progenesis Afflicted - When technology and ambition spin out of control... here there be monsters.
    • The Fallen - Fanatically religious Catholics decide to become SIMs in an effort to explore the affects of Apotheosis on the soul and their connection to God; only to go mad and take up the mantles of harbingers of the end times. Rampantly forking, fragmented and mad, the Fallen have become virtual incarnations of Death, Conquest, Famine and War.
    • The Unseen Court - The Illuminati? The New World Order? Monsters in the night? The Boogeyman in the Closet? Who or what really controls the Coalition? How and for what purpose? Why did the corporations become Houses? Why the callbacks to Rome and feudal societies? Why does the Shadow War continue, and to what end?
    • Scholae Palatinae - One Praetorian can't get the job done? Deploy the Scholae. Outfitted with a cutting edge ship, a crew, specialists, scientists, and the best gear the Coalition can compile; the Scholae are small groups of Praetorians authorized to use their resources to stamp out threats and explore the galaxy.
    • Phalanx Formations - Sometimes a more discreet approach is called for. In those times, the Tetragon summons and deploys a Phalanx Formation. The Phalanx are crews of Auxiliaries that step out of the Shadow War to perform covert military ops under the umbrella of the Protectorate. They are sent after violators of the HPA, terrorists, dangerous pirates, lost APEX bombs, rogue scientist attempting to create another Mimir, etc.

Advice is included for GMs who want to run all-Scholae or Phalanx campaigns; encouraging a look at the Nova Praxis setting from a new angle.

The Houses and the Coalition - Each House got more pages dedicated to how they work, how they govern themselves, their ambitions and their troubles. We also spent some time on how the Houses relate to the Coalition as a whole.

Ghosts in Darkness and the Campaign Arcs - We've talked about this before, but I thought I'd mention it again because I really dig it. GiD is an intro scenario designed to get a new campaign started. And there are four campaign arcs, each of which outlines a series of events that can play out over several gaming sessions. GiD fits nicely either before or after the first arc.

"Savage Praxis" (The Savage Worlds version of Nova Praxis)

I met with Sean on Sunday and we talked about schedules and content. We're hoping to have a set of notes put together by the end of this month that we can playtest with. Expect the Kickstarter to go live shortly after, sometime around the first of March.

And yes, it will feature much of what is in Machinations.


I talked to my ink guy. He has a more scratch resistant ink we're going to try.

I also talked to our plastics guys, and it looks like we're going to be able to get the price down some. The original Tact-Tiles were $70 for a set of 12. We're going to try our best to hit that with this new set; but I can't make any promises. That was nearly a decade ago, and prices have done nothing but rise since then.

Right now we're trying to get a sample of the plastic sent to our ink guy so that he can select an ink that works better for us. Hopefully we'll get that sample, and get it sent out in the next few days.


Like I said above, we're planning to Kickstart "Savage Praxis" and hopefully Tact-Tiles soon. And as with any Kickstart campaign, the better it does, the better for all of us. So get out there and start spreading the word! And if you have a cool idea for a stretch goal (for either Tact-Tiles or "Savage Praxis") be sure to let me know.

The Saga Continues...

So, Tact-Tiles and I have a past. I met the boys of BC-Products (the original creators) on ENWorld several years ago when the Tact-Tiles originally came out. I noticed they were in the same city as me (Huntsville, AL) and, in need of a gaming group, sent one of them a private message.

 I got a response and we agreed to meet for lunch one day to sort of interview each other. Both of us have had some problem players in the past and wanted to avoid that sort of situation again.

So we met, hit it off, and have been good friends ever since. In fact, I'm still in a weekly game with them.

Fast forward a few years. Tact-Tiles go out of production due to issues with the manufacturing process and one of the vendors. A few other companies try their hand at it, and fail. I get involved with BC-Products try again. We fail again.

Tact-Tiles effectively disappear.

Fast forward a few more years. I start Void Star Studios with Strands of Fate. By indie standards, it's a huge success. For one guy working with his friends from the internet, it's a massive hit. It goes Platinum on DrivethruRPG. 

Strands of Power comes the next year. For a supplement, it also does very well.

And then this Kickstarter thing happens and I see the opportunity to get the capital to do Nova Praxis the way I wanted to do it. It goes on to generate almost $30,000 in pledges. Again, by indie standards, that's a huge hit. It goes Platinum on DrivethruRPG three times faster than Strands of Fate, and will soon see a Savage Worlds version.

So... emboldened by past success, I acquire the rights to Tact-Tiles for Void Star. We start plotting, scheming, designing and schmoozing vendors. Progress, it seems, it finally being made.

And here we are. I won't lie, we're still facing some challenges.

For example... We got our sample in for the ink that gets applied to make the grid. I'm not real thrilled with it. Take a sharp metal object (like the base of a metal mini), and you can scrape it off. i expect that to some degree, but I'm not happy with how easy it was. So I'll be getting back in touch with my ink guy Monday.

I also got an updated quote to run some samples from the mold, and the price per tile has gone up considerably (like +40%). So we've got to tackle that Monday as well. And I've also got to buy a new sprue for the mold, which clocks in at around $800.

Nasty surprises to be sure, but certainly not show stoppers. Tact-Tiles have become my own personal Moby Dick over the last few years, but by God I'm going to slay this beast.

Stay tuned for more updates as we battle this beast. 

The Big Announcements

Recently I've hinted here and there that we had a few big announcements to make. Well, no more hinting...



Nova Praxis Logo.jpg

We're proud to announce that Nova Praxis is going to be released as an officially licensed Savage Worlds campaign setting. And is that the conversion is being done in conjunction with none other than veteran Savage Worlds developer and publisher, Sean Patrick Fannon, author of Shaintar.

We're really excited about this, and more details will follow soon!

Secondly, we'd also like to announce an even bigger release.

Savage Worlds has long been considered one of the best miniatures games out there. So why not play on the best gaming surface there is? 



Void Star Studios, Inc. has acquired the rights, processes, vendors and original mold for Tact-Tiles! And the original creators of the Tact-Tiles are working with us as advisors.

These aren't some cheap knock-offs. These are the real deal, tweaked to improve the manufacturing process to insure we can bring them to you at an affordable price.

Our intent is to make this new run of Tact-Tiles 100% compatible with the original Tact-Tiles from BC Products, and to insure these are of even better quality. 

Tact-Tiles are highly portable, rigid, thick plastic, dry-erase, gaming tiles. No more erasing the mat and starting over when the PCs run off the edge! And no more fussing with a rolled up mat!

So there you have it.

"Savage Praxis" has been under development for a little while now. I've got a meeting set with Sean this weekend to talk a bit more about conversion strategy and timelines.

On the Tact-Tiles front; we're expecting material and ink samples for the Tact-Tiles within the next few weeks. We're still working through a few kinks, and we'll keep you posted as we progress.

Look for the Kickstarter for both the Savage Worlds edition of Nova Praxis, and Tact-Tiles, very soon! 

What are we doing?

Finally finished up a chunk of Machinations (the Nova Praxis GM's guide) that had been nagging me. 

  • Ghosts in Shadow, the (~32 page) intro scenario that we be in the back of the book, is in playtesting.
  • The rules for Sequences are in playtesting.
  • The first draft of the expanded coverage the Houses is complete. 
  • A number of concepts for additional antagonists have been submitted.
  • An overview of how the Houses and Coalition operate together and separate has been done.
  • The four campaign arcs have been outlined.
  • Plus some other stuff.

We've still got more to do, but progress is being made. It's not progressing nearly as fast as I'd like, but a number of personal complications have blah blah blah... Nobody wants to hear excuses.

We've also got two more huge projects in the works. One is a conversion of Nova Praxis to another popular game system. I can't say much more right now, but it's going to be awesome. I won't be handling the conversion myself. Instead, the bulk of the work is getting passed off to an expert with the system. Honestly, I can't wait. But don't worry, we're not ditching FATE by any means. Supplements going forward will be released for both systems, either as a single book with two sets of stats, or as two separate books. Not sure yet.

The other project, which looks like it's going to be huge, is actually something that can supplement just about any game system. More on that as we get samples in and go through testing. After we're satisfied with the quality, we'll be firing up a Kickstarter.

We're looking at a Q1 2014 release for all of this stuff.

Bundle of Holding - Indie Edition

Void Star Studios is proud to be a part of the latest Bundle of Holding.

From now through Dec 3rd, you can get a ton of great games for dirt cheap. And you help out some worthy charities in the process!

The Bundle currently contains...

Apocalypse World: The fantastically innovative post-apocalypse RPG by Dogs in the Vineyard designer D. Vincent Baker.

Sagas of the Icelanders: The hot -- rather, the arctic cold -- new Apocalypse Engine spinoff by Gregor Vuga.

Perfect, Unrevised: Dystopian steampunk criminal radicalism by Monsterhearts designer Joe Mcdaldno.

And by paying more than the current average price [$18.73 at the time this was posted], you also get all these bonus titles:

Dungeon World: The complete 450-page Apocalypse Engine fantasy game that is transforming the field.

Adventures on Dungeon Planet: Takes Dungeon World into science fantasy.

Durance: Fiasco designer Jason Morningstar's game of survival and status on a brutal prison planet.

Nova Praxis (Augmented .PDF): The fascinating Fate-system transhuman SFRPG, offered in a state-of-the-art .PDF version that shows everyone how it should be done.

Ghosts in Darkness Released to Playtesters

Ghosts in Darkness, the intro scenario from Machinations, has finally gone out to playtesters!

And to celebrate, I give you The Chickenhawk! This comes with an announcement that Ryan Wolfe of 0hr Art and Technology ( will be lending his talents to Machinations and future Nova Praxis products.

Those familiar with Ryan's Future Armada line might recognize The Chickenhawk as an Exeter class vessel. I highly recommend checking this, and his other great designs, out on his website.

Chickenhawk Deck.jpg
Chickenhawk Render.jpg

Progress Behind the Curtain

Finally got the first draft of Ghosts in Darkness complete. It's the introductory scenario that will be in Machinations, the Nova Praxis GM guide.

It took longer than I'd hoped because I've been running a playtest as I've been writing it, and scheduling conflicts have made getting play time in rather difficult of late.

I've got a few little tweaks to make, and a few NPCs to stat up, and then it will be ready to release to playtesters.

I've also been in the process of pulling a lot of other strings together for future projects. I can't talk much about those yet, but expect to hear at least two big announcements by the end of the year. 


Nova Praxis PDF and Website Store Updated

Just a quick note. I have drastically reduced the file size for the version of the print version of the Nova Praxis PDF. You can get the update by re-downloading it from DrivethruRPG or wherever you got it.

We have also just added several new products to our web store. I believe you'll get a better discount ordering from us directly than anywhere else. 

And more are coming! 

Check it out, and if you see any problems, be sure to let us know. 

Void Star at GenCon

First of all, Indie Press Revolution (IPR) will be selling Nova Praxis at their booth there. So if you want a print copy, and haven't gotten one yet, there you go.

Second... Looking over my schedule, it looks we're going to arrive at the con on Thursday around 3:00 or so. 

As of right now, I'm going to be free from 10:00-11:00AM, and then any time after 3:00PM, Friday and Saturday. I'm free most of the day Sunday, but we'll be leaving sometime around 3:00.

During the free time, I'm going to be looking for people to hang out and/or game with. It's just myself and my wife going. It's our first time at GenCon, and I'm not overbooked on events. So don't be shy! My main reason for going is to socialize with you guys, game, get feedback, talk future products, etc.

I'm going to create a Google+ circle for people who want to meet up and talk Nova Praxis, FATE, D&D, movies, sci-fi, the singularity, or whatever other chunks of assorted geekery you want to talk about.

And if a game breaks out, then that's great too.

Nova Praxis has gone Platinum!

Almost exactly four months after its release, the Nova Praxis Augmented PDF has become a Platinum Best Seller on DrivethruRPG!

Thank you all very much!

I cannot express how cool it is to finally see Nova Praxis out there in the hands of the fans. And more,Nova Praxis Augmented PDF seems to have triggered a trend in the industry. Since its release, I've seen many more publishers adding additional functionality to their PDFs (many of them even calling them "Augmented PDFs" :D ).

And now all the orders for the print version have been shipped, and you can get the PDF of the print version on a "Pay What You Want" basis here. And don't forget that this version grants permission to share the PDF with friends and family. So please do!

If you want it in print, you can either order it from this site or ask your local game store to order it from Indie Press Revolution.

What's next?

GenCon is coming up and I hope to see you guys there. While Void Star Studios will not have it's own booth, Nova Praxis will be sold at GenCon by our distributor Indie Press Revolution. And I'll be there ready and willing to talk to sign books, hang out, and answer questions about Nova PraxisStrands of Fate, or whatever else you want to talk about.

After that, we become laser focused on getting Machinations out the door. Formerly called "The GM Companion", Machinations will cover a lot of the stuff we just didn't have room for in the core book. It'll delve deeper into the Houses, introduce some new factions, provide an introductory scenario (Ghosts in Darkness), sample plot arcs, more advice on running Shadow War centered campaigns, advice for running different types of campaigns that diverge from the mission-based structure suggested in the core book, and more. We've already been putting some time in on it, and I'm super happy with how it's shaping up.

Many thanks to everyone who has supported us!